Over 20 million electric vehicle charging points are expected to be deployed globally by 2030, consuming over 250% more copper than in 2019.
However, in order to meet these targets, much more private and public investment is required, according to Wood Mackenzie.
Read about how Battery raw materials could face a supply crunch
Henry Salisbury, Wood Mackenzie Research Analyst, says:
“Copper is a cornerstone of the EV revolution. At the heart of the electric vehicle, it is used throughout because of its high electrical conductivity, durability and malleability.
“The need for for the metal is even more significant when it comes to charging stations and supporting electrical grid infrastructure.
“By 2040, we predict that passenger EVs will consume more than 3.7Mt of copper every year. In comparison, passenger internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will need just over 1Mt.
“If we look at cumulative demand, between now and 2040 passenger EVs will consume 35.4 Mt – around 5 Mt more than is required to meet current passenger ICE demand.
EVs need large amounts of copper
“EVs can use up to three and a half times as much copper when compared to an ICE passenger car. The amount goes up as the size of the vehicle increases.
“For example, a fully electric bus uses between 11 and 16 times more copper than an ICE passenger vehicle – depending on the size of the battery and the actual bus.
Could copper act as a catalyst for faster EV adoption?
“As it stands, range anxiety – worrying that a battery will run out of power mid-journey – is a key psychological barrier standing in the way of more widespread EV adoption.
“One way to address this is to roll out more charging infrastructure. As this happens, more connections to the electrical grid will be required and more copper will be needed as the network expands.”
There are no viable alternatives
Copper’s physical properties make it the best metal to conduct electricity and it can comfortably accommodate the higher temperatures that are common in EVs.
Aluminium is the closest alternative. However, despite it being lighter and almost three times cheaper, copper comes up trumps on size and efficiency. An aluminium cable needs to have a cross-sectional area that is double the size of any copper equivalent to conduct the same amount of electricity.